Florida Gators: “I’m really just trying to be that guy.”

Bryan Cox Jr. sat alone in a terminal at Gainesville Regional Airport with orange Beats by Dr. Dre headphones over his ears, separating him from the world around him. Just 48 hours before he would join his team in Knoxville, Cox had the unfortunate task of going to Atlanta to attend the funeral of his grandfather, Otis Williams.

Cox returned to the Florida Gators after the funeral and had a career day, finishing with five tackles and three sacks. It was a breakout performance in every sense of the word. Coming into the game Cox had seven career tackles and just two sacks, but Cox didn’t want to call the game against Tennessee a breakout performance, “Just because I feel like there’s more to come,” he told reporters.

The rest of the season was frustrating for the redshirt sophomore. Cox finished the 2014 season with 29 tackles and just four sacks — only recording one after the Tennessee game — as he worked in a backup role behind Jon Bullard and Dante Fowler Jr.

With Fowler gone this year, Florida needs to find a way to get to the quarterback, something that won’t be as easy as it has been in the past.

“Obviously, the big thing last year was that everybody was keying in on Dante, so all lines were sliding his way,” Cox said. “But now this year, since we don’t have Dante, it’s going to be a lot different because we don’t know how the offense is going to be.”

Cox hopes to come into his own this year, putting in the hard work in hopes that it meets opportunity. That hard work began with rehab; hip surgery set Cox back in the offseason and slowed him in the spring.

“It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, honestly,” he said. “It’s took its toll on me, but it’s been good overall.”

Despite the minor setback, Cox appears to be turning the corner in his career and turning the heads of his teammates.

“Bryan Cox definitely stepped up his game. His pass rush has become way better,” defensive tackle Caleb Brantley said. “I don’t really know how to explain it. It’s just his effort, his hands. He became better with his hands. He’s just an all-around better player.”

Cox is back to full strength as he readies for this season. Jon Bullard may be Florida’s best defensive lineman right now, but Bullard has never been a big stat guy. He doesn’t put up big sack totals and as he moves from defensive end to tackle and back and forth, will draw doubles teams most of the season. That should open things up for Cox, who hopes to fill the void and add himself to the long list of scary defensive ends at Florida.

“I’m really just trying to be that guy. You know what I’m saying? Dante left, it’s just like everybody has their question marks about who’s going to do this, who’s going to do that.”

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC


  1. You really can’t blame Cox for the South Carolina game. Special teams, and a lack of offense were the culprits in that game. Oh, and don’t forget the fact that Quinton Dunbar (which was the most subpar WR recruit to ever come to Florida) was called for a holding penalty, that took away a TD that could have potentially sealed the win. There were several other reasons that would go at the top of the list as to why this game was lost, before Cox could get any portion of the blame. If you’ve ever played football and I am assuming you did based on your use of terminology. There are going to be times that mistakes are made. The guy is focused this year. I am excited about the defense as most fans should be, and even more excited about Cox now that he’s not in Fowler’s shadow anymore.